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5 highly skilled players the Flames can draft in the first round

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Photo credit:Steve Dunsmoor/Kelowna Rockets
Robert Munnich
7 months ago
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A few weeks ago, Nashville Predators general manager Barry Trotz met with the media and said something that was very interesting about how his philosophy when it comes to the NHL draft. He told his scouts to “take some swings, take some high end swings on some guys. I can find you third and fourth line guys no problem. Go get me some guys that get people out of their seats.”
What a refreshing view on the draft. It resonated with me and a lot of people around the hockey world.
So I was thinking, who are some of those players available in the 2023 NHL draft that the Calgary Flames could ‘take some swings on’? Let’s take a look at five of those players.

Andrew Cristall

The Kelowna Rockets star forward has ripped up the WHL in his two years in the league. He put up 69 points in 61 games as a 16-year-old. And this past season he was almost a two point per game player as a 17-year-old putting up 95 points in 54 games. He did a lot of that by himself as he played on a bad Kelowna Rockets team. Oh yeah, and he played through injuries this past season too.
The knock scouts have on Cristall is that he is small, inconsistent, and he lacks intensity on the defensive side of his game.
But the inconsistency and defence are things you can work on with him. What the Flames can’t teach is the elite skill level and vision of Cristall’s game.
This is a player who has the potential to be a point per game player in the NHL. The Flames should seriously consider taking him at pick 16.

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Oliver Moore

The Flames have been a slow team for a long time. This is an organization that desperately needs to add speed to their lineup. There is no better player to select than Oliver Moore to help with that.
Moore is regarded as the best skater in his draft class. Moore’s NHL comparable is Dylan Larkin. Someone who can wreak havoc on the forecheck and is able to back defenders up on the rush opening passing lanes and space for himself.
He also has a great set of hands and hockey vision to go along with his elite skating.
This is the type of player who could be a 70 point, first- or second-line center for a long time. This is someone the Flames should look to select with their first-round pick.

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Gabe Perreault

Perreault has been listed on draft boards from anywhere as high as sixth, to the late 20s. He is a polarizing player. He is small and not the best skater which has some NHL scouts worried about if his game can translate to the NHL level.
But for what Perreault lacks in size and speed, he makes up for with elite hockey sense and incredible play making abilities. Perreault set the US Development Team record for points in a season with 132 passing Auston Matthews.
Perreault has the potential to be an elite offensive weapon at the NHL level. He is too smart and is too skilled not to have success. This would be a home run selection for the Flames if Perreault were to fall to pick 16.

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Eduard Sale

Sale has a similar profile to Andrew Cristall. He is an incredibly skilled player who has all the physical talent to be a great player in the NHL. But the knock on him is that he lacks a competitive edge to his game.
But if the team that drafts him can help him develop that part of his game, he will become a high end, top 6 NHL forward.
He was above two points per game in top junior league in Chechia and has ripped it up across multiple international events including the 2023 World Juniors.
This is another player who has some warts to his game. But if he can work through those he has the potential to be a star player at the highest level.

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Wild Card: Bradley Nadeau

Nadeau is a wild card player for me. I don’t think it makes sense to take him at pick 16. But it would be worthwhile to select Nadeau if the Flames are able to acquire another draft pick late in the first round.
Nadeau has the skill and hockey sense necessary to be in the NHL. But scouts have two knocks against him. Firstly, he played in the BCHL which is one of the lower-level leagues these teams are selecting from. And secondly, is Nadeau’s size. He is only 5’10, 161 pounds. Scouts are skeptical if Nadeau can handle ‘big boy hockey’ in the NHL.
But he is going to the NCAA where he will have two to three years to develop physically and put on muscle.
The ceiling for Nadeau is very high and one I would take a flier on late in the first round.

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Who are the players you want to see the Flames select with the 16th overall pick? Let us know in the comments section! 
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